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Q: Becoming a library paraprofessional ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Becoming a library paraprofessional
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: pj23-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 13 Jul 2005 10:30 PDT
Expires: 12 Aug 2005 10:30 PDT
Question ID: 543099
I would like some information about becoming a library
paraprofessional. I am applying for a job as a circulation clerk at a
library and I would like to know as much as I can about what that
means. Are there resources online for library paraprofessional? Maybe
some sort of groups, or websites for professional development? Any
info about salaries or work conditions, etc.? Really, any sort of info
you have. I'll tack on an extra $10 once I get an answer!
Subject: Re: Becoming a library paraprofessional
Answered By: journalist-ga on 13 Jul 2005 11:55 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings Pj23,

I've found numerous links that should keep you in reading material for awhile. :)  

Circulation Clerk Duties
Library Clerk III, Job description, Town of Bloomfield

This is responsible clerical work in a library involving support
services and services to patrons.

Work involves responsibility for the full range of circulation desk
functions using an automated circulation system, including oversight
of circulation staff, performance of routine administrative
procedures, and complaint handling. Duties include setting up of
library facilities for use of staff and patrons, inspection and simple
repairs of holdings, records maintenance for fines, book reserves and
inter-library loan, carrying out Connecticard procedures. This
position is also invested with making difficult library clerical
decisions. The work requires that the employee have considerable
knowledge, skill and ability in library clerical functions, especially
the operation of an automated circulation system.

Supervision Received
Works under the general supervision of the Technical Services Librarian.  

Examples Of Duties

Oversees the full range of circulation desk procedures using an
automated circulation system and supervises desk staff and library
Functions as the staff authority on circulation procedures. 
Keeps staff informed on new CONNECT practices and procedures and
changes in library procedures.
Sets up circulation desk and desk equipment. 
Handles complaints and answers a variety of questions at the circulation desk. 
Answers telephones and provides routine information or refers and transfers calls. 
Maintains periodical collection, as assigned. 
Assists with library program preparation and implementation, as directed. 
Inspects library materials and makes simple repairs. 
Carries out procedures for notification of patrons for overdue books
and other materials and assures their return or replacement.
Carries out procedures for the reserve of books and their timely return. 
Supervises patron registration and maintains records of library patrons. 
Performs related work as required. 
Knowledge, Skills And Abilities

Considerable knowledge of library clerical procedures and practices. 
Good knowledge of the English language. 
Considerable skill in typing and the ability to do data entry using a
computer terminal.
Considerable ability to understand and follow written and oral instructions. 
Considerable ability to comprehend and implement CONNECT practices and procedures. 
Considerable ability to pay attention to detail. 
Considerable ability to establish and maintain effective working
relationships with superiors, associates and the general public.
A high school diploma or the equivalent and three years of library
clerical experience, OR, an equivalent combination of education and
experience substituting on the basis of one year of experience for
each year of education.

Special Requirements


(There are more clerk descriptions on the page above this one I've
chosen.  The ones above it cite less knowledge requirements.)

MORE job descriptions of circulation clerk duties and requirements:


A brief study from 2000, titled "Trends in Library Paraprofessional
Development" - visit
(Info here also includes mentions of salaries and national trends.)

Toward a More Perfect Union: Breaking Down the Caste Systems in Libraries
by Martha Parsons and Troy Christenson
(Very interesting article concerning "us vs. them" mentality among
degreed/non-degreed/differently degreed library employees.)

3rd Congress on Professional Education: Focus on Library Support Staff (COPE III)
May 16-17, 2003, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL
(From the American Library Association)
Overview is located at

Librarians and Library Paraprofessionals 
From Department of Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
"Currently support staff are involved at all levels of library
operations and hold a variety of job titles, such as library aide,
library clerk, library assistant, library information specialist,
audio visual technician and library service assistant (Library Support
Staff Resource Center, ). The Library
Support Staff Resource Center asserts that support staff today are
such a varied group that generalizations regarding their work are
nearly impossible to make, especially when one considers that "the
range and complexity of their duties varies with each position, the
size and type of the library in which they work, and each library?s
specific needs, goals or mission" (Ibid.)."

"As "OUR" Roles change and become redefined - WE need to understand
trends and ideas, issues, of  the Professional Librarians.  How are
Libraries staffing their library -  today, what are they using as
hiring criteria, etc. Library Paraprofessionals can only help
themselves by learning as much as they can
about "technology" (,
library policies and procedures and  what
the other side of the "library"
( is learning &

Extra Tips from Biblia on preparing a resume for work in a library

Top Five Reasons to Hire an Information Professional

Job Outlook for Library Paraprofessionals in Colorado

Library Trends 
Wntr, 1998 
Educating and training library practitioners: a comparative history
with trends and recommendations. (includes appendix on history of
library education)
Author/s: Anthony M. Wilson 
"In this article, comparisons are made between formal education for
librarians and for library technicians. The scope of these comparisons
is limited mainly to practices in the United States. Note that terms
such as "librarian" and "professional" have been used to describe
librarians. Likewise, terms such as "library technician," "library
clerk," "library assistant," "support personnel," and "library
paraprofessional" have been used to describe library technicians. Note
too that one author followed the evolution of library technician
education, while the other did the same for the evolution of librarian

"What is it really like to work in a library, i don't mean as a
professional librarian or a top manager - but to actually do the work.
What's good about it, what's bad about it. What are the stresses and
what are the benefits?"
(A forum discussion with great on-the-job info)

Profile of a Library Technician (Canada)

Online Job Fair (lots of great links here regarding library paraprofessionals)


Addressing Paraprofessional Issues: 101+ Strategies by Ed Gillen
(This comprehensive compilation lists 100 strategies for existing
library paraprofessionals.)

Book Review
Rodgers, Terry. The Library Paraprofessional: Notes from the
Underground. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1997. 361 p. $45, alk. paper.
(ISBN 0-7864-0222-9). LC 96-26371.
(You may be able to locate this book in your local library system. 
Publication date is 1997 yet there may be excellent info in the book
pertaining to your needs.)

Support Staff sites for Library Technicians

Library Technicians and Assistants Interest Group (LTAIG)
From the British Columbia Library Association

After you've finished perusing these links (and among them, you'll see
support sites), then let me know if there is anything else you'd like
me to research about library paraprofessionals, and I'll be happy to
add more info before you rate my answer.  :)

Best regards,


"library paraprofessional"
"library paraprofessional" support
"library paraprofessional" information
"library paraprofessional" association OR organization
"circulation clerk" duties
pj23-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Very thorough answer. This definitely helps me get a better grasp of
the job. I have been searching myself to find some good information
about this and your answer covers many areas I needed to learn about.
My own search did not result in so many wonderful websites. I’m just
wondering, how long it took you to answer this?

Subject: Re: Becoming a library paraprofessional
From: waukon-ga on 14 Jul 2005 02:08 PDT
Few librarians ever make serious money as librarians. To even get a
job, you have to have a Master of Library Science degree. Head
librarians have a doctorate in it, and don't make too much money more
because of it.

Libraries are wonderful places that one could make a career of living
in. Unfortunately, there is no money to be made doing so. There are
too many of us who would be happy in a job surrounded and defined by

Circulation clerks are the lowest of the low on the totom pole.
Shelvers are perhaps a little better ill-paid.

The kind of people who work in a library are of the social class that
normally defines 'genteel poverty'.

First Lady Laura Bush's degree is in Library Science.
Subject: Re: Becoming a library paraprofessional
From: journalist-ga on 15 Jul 2005 09:24 PDT
Pj23, thank you so much for the five-star rating, your kind words and
your added generosity!  Some customers promising tips don't always
follow through, so it's always a delightful surprise to see a GA
customer honor a tip offer.  :)

Regarding how long it took to answer, I locked your question shortly
after you posted it at 10:30 PDT and posted my answer at 11:55 PDT. 
So, approximately 1.5 hours.

Anytime one of your questions is locked shortly after you post it (and
subsequently answered thereafter), you may always check the Google
Answers time stamp to approximate how long as answer was researched.

At the top right of your question posting, see
Posted: 13 Jul 2005 10:30 PDT 
Expires: 12 Aug 2005 10:30 PDT 
Question ID: 543099 

At the top of my answer, see
Subject: Re: Becoming a library paraprofessional 
Answered By: journalist-ga on 13 Jul 2005 11:55 PDT

Of course, sometimes a Researcher will lock a question and then
release it later, only to have it locked by another Researcher.  In
those cases, the time stamp won't always apply to the hours spent

Best regards,
Subject: Re: Becoming a library paraprofessional
From: cooperator-ga on 22 Jul 2005 07:48 PDT
I've held many paraprofessional library positions over the years, and
I just got my MLS.  Responses to Waukon's comments:

"Few librarians ever make serious money as librarians."
"...there is no money to be made..."

Of course, this is subjective, and depends on one's cost of living and
spending habits.  As of May 2004, librarians in the U.S. received a
mean annual salary of $47,590 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).  To me,
that's "serious money," but to Waukon, that may be "no money."  It is
true that we are paid less than other professionals.

"To even get a job, you have to have a Master of Library Science degree. Head
librarians have a doctorate in it..."

Not all people with the title of 'Librarian' have Master degrees,
though many jobs do require a Master in Library/Information
Science/Studies from an ALA-accredited institution.  Head librarians
are more likely to have a second Master degree in another field, or
post-MLS certification, than a doctorate.  There is little value to
having an MLS doctorate unless one is working at a university, and
even then, usually only the library school professors have them.

"...a job surrounded and defined by books."

There are a great variety of librarian jobs, many of which are more
defined by technology or information than books.  While many of my
fellow students described their motivation for entering this field as
a love of reading, my own motivation was a love of helping people find
the information they seek.
Subject: Re: Becoming a library paraprofessional
From: ahfieahfwfr9832uy523-ga on 08 Sep 2005 11:52 PDT
What are you talking about? Librarians make decent money. You are
making it out to sound like it would be better to work at Taco Bell,
and that you would also make more money. Go to and see for
yourself, the median salary for a person with a Masters in Library
Science is 50k. Those figures are for the public library sector.
People that have a job in the academic libraries do much less, and get
paid much much more. The reason being in the academic library they
aren't relied on state funding like public libaries are. Thus, they
don't have to pitch a tax height to get more pay like the public
librarians do each year.

It is crucial that one gets at least a MA in Library Science, I think
a PhD wouldn't be as necessary. The MA seperates the people that are
just clerks, and the people that work in the offices. Also, if you
don't have the MA, the institution will stick you in the basement and
you'll be forced to sort incoming books until you die.

So yeah, average figure for librarians starting out with experience is
about 60k. That, my friend, isn't so bad. I currently get paid this
figure to snake google forms and set people straight.

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